Elizabeth Smart in Columbus for Women Helping Women Luncheon - WRBL

Elizabeth Smart in Columbus for Women Helping Women Luncheon

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The story of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart's abduction in 2002, had the nation on alert and
families holding their children a lot closer.  After being held prisoner for nine months, police safely returned smart to her parents.

Tuesday, Smart spoke at the Annual Women Helping Women luncheon hosted by the Pastoral Institute.  In a room filled with women at the Columbus Ironworks and Trade Center there were tears - -and laughter as Smart shared anecdotes and her story of overcoming a tragic situation.  "I'd been to school and I'd been to friends houses, but I'd never really been away from my parents. I never felt like anyone could hurt me before then," said Smart during a press conference before the luncheon.

Smart shared her story.  She was your average teen, worried about things that now sound frivolous, wishing she'd been invited to the popular kids party and finding reassurance from her supportive mother.  Once in the shelter of her home- -then kidnapped. 

She says even in the terrifying situation she remembered the love of her family.  She knew she had a reason to live, and she would do anything to survive.  "I don't know how I could have survived without faith in God.  Faith in someone who loves me and who is going to support me and be there for me and not give up on me."

Smart's mother told her the best way to punish her abuser is to be happy, and move forward.
she's putting that advice into action.  Smart has been married for  just over a year now and she's a senior at Brigham Young University.  Smart is studying harp performance.  She shared her talent during the luncheon. 

She is also an advocate for protecting children from abuse and abduction.  Two years ago she founded the Elizabeth Smart foundation with her father.

Through her RAD Kids program she empowers youth with 3 principles.  She tells kids they are special and no one has the right to hurt them.  And they don't have the right to hurt others , unless someone is trying to hurt them.  "The third principal is, it's not your fault and its okay to tell."

For more on the RAD program and how Elizabeth Smart is working to protect children, visit elizabethsmartfoundation.org.  

A jury unanimously convicted Smart's kidnapper 57-year-old Brian Davis Mitchell in 2011.

Brandice Hudson

Brandice Hudson is a weekend anchor and digital journalist for WRBL News 3. She comes to Columbus from sunny West Palm Beach, Fla. More>>

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